\By: Tyler Michael
Published by: Tyler Michael Books
Publication Date: October 2020
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Gaming is the overarching theme behind Tyler Michael’s compelling saga, Apex,beginning with a simple camping trip and ending in international intrigue, with much blood shed along the way.
Chris is a college grad trying to figure out what to do with his life, and in the meantime, he leads new campers on wilderness adventures, teaching hardcore survival skills. On this gig, he’s with Kate, an athletic young female college student, and Kevin, who has a problem-solver mentality but little experience in the wild or in facing physical challenges. They’re in a national park very familiar to Chris, first night out, already working through the decision of where to camp as the planned location has been flooded. It’s then that Chris meets Ranger, who pulls him into a casual conversation that soon turns somewhat dark: Ranger works for a mysterious organization called Apex that arranges very costly hunting trips for exceedingly wealthy clients – all in a cloak of secrecy.
Somewhere across the globe, three men have been summoned to a meeting to arrange their next assignment: they will have three targets, and all three must be destroyed. The stakes are high – in the millions of dollars – and all three men willingly sign on, knowing what they must do. The next day, Chris, Kate and Kevin wake up in an unknown place, with red wristwatches strapped to their wrists. The three are now the unwitting prey of three motivated, ruthless hunters. The young campers’ personal survival skills, down to the most basic life-and-death scenarios, are all that they have for safety. This bizarre sport will be played to the last breath.
Author Tyler Michael is a self-described “film and video game enthusiast” who has here created two kinds of games, at first highlighting the activities of the young campers learning the rules of the wild, and then superseded by the evil schemes of high-stakes bettors willing to kill for sport and selfish entertainment. The plot belongs as much to the amoral hunters, whose names are all color-coded, as to the youthful, essentially naïve nature-loving explorers. The hunters are competing with one another, their rivalry contrasting with the life-loving determination of the young people they are charged with eliminating. The author, in this debut work, shows strong plot sense and the ability to switch scenes and viewpoints page by page. There will be a winner in the game and a sad but needed denouement, in this unusual, imaginative story.
Quill says: Tyler Michael’s dark tale is recommended for teen and adult readers, bearing in mind that violence and danger are ever-present factors in the action-filled, do-or-die drama that cries for a sequel.
For more information on Apex, please visit the author's website at: www.tylermichaelbooks.com